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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Mar 23, 2011

From Tahrir Square to the Voting Booths

The Revolution of the 25th of January led the Egyptian people from Tahrir Square into the voting booths. Nearly 19 million people have exercised their democratic rights freely for the first time in their lives. This exciting and dramatic experience was accomplished in an organized and orderly manner.

Close to half of the eligible voters have cast their votes in support of constitution reforms that will usher in the elections of members of parliament and Majlis il-Shoura in six months. After the election the new parliament will appoint a judicial committee to write a new constitution to replace the present one (1971) in one year.

It is important to stress the point that those who have exercised their political rights are doing so for the first time. During the previous four decades, the elections were fraudulent and only a small segment of the population participated in them. The younger generation has planted the seeds of democracy and I hope they will continue to nourish it until develops solid roots. The road to achieving this objective is still long and the elements of risks are operating behind the scenes. The total demands of the young generation have not been achieved yet.

For example, the Egyptian National Democratic Party (NDP) has not been dissolved. It is the party of the previous ruling government, which nominated all members to its high political positions and many of them are being investigated for political corruption. This party is the only political outlet through which its members can still run for elections within the next six months. They are organized and well financed by the business elite who might make an inroad in the next election.

The second strong politically organized group is the Muslim Brotherhood who will gain a large percentage of the parliament seats in the upcoming elections. The Muslim Brotherhood was not permitted to participate in previous elections because of its religious orientation, but they are highly organized.

There are 24 other licensed political parties that have been marginalized by the previous regime and have lost credibility with voters because of the poor political roles they have played during the previous 4-5 decades. Their leadership is old and not in touch with reality.

The third potential group that might play an important role in the political arena is the younger generation, which led and was responsible for the revolution that started a new beginning in Egypt. However, the ratification of the constitution did not provide them with enough time to politically organize and start publicizing their agenda for the Egyptian voters. Six months is a short period of time in which to accomplish such a task. For that reason, the two major political parties that might sweep the upcoming elections are the members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Democratic Party.

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